If you haven’t made plans for the long weekend yet – or any other weekend this spring – how about Northern Ireland?
The six northern counties are packed with high-quality attractions and places to visit to keep you entertained, whether you’re heading out with the girls, on a romantic getaway, or taking the whole family on a mini vacation.
World-class attractions such as Titanic Belfast or the new OM Dark Sky Park & Observatory are definitely worth a visit, as well as many other attractions and sights.
From unique to adventurous, cultural and historical and more, here are some of the top attractions and places to visit in Northern Ireland this spring:
World class and unique
- Titanic Belfast, Belfast
The iconic six-story building is located on the historic site where the Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912. The self-guided Titanic Experience is a one-way themed itinerary. Guests can complete their Titanic experience by visiting the world’s last White Star ship and the RMS Titanic’s original tender ship, the SS Nomadic. Walk the decks, explore the ship and take a journey through over 100 years of authentic maritime and social history.
- OM Dark Sky Park & Observatory, County Tyrone
Opened only last year, the center will offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the night sky as it is rarely seen with an experienced guide. Visitors will be able to explore our solar system and star gaze using telescopes to see the night sky without light pollution, as Davagh is the only official ‘dark sky’ park in Northern Ireland. Combining the latest technology, visitors can expect to see holographic installations and bespoke audio-visual shows in the evenings using virtual reality headsets.
- Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, County Fermanagh
In the award-winning Marble Arch caves – one of Europe’s finest exhibition caves, visitors can enter a world of subterranean rivers, winding passages, upper chambers and an array of spectacular cave formations to enjoy the magnificent million-year-old cave system.
There are more than 50 stunning sites in the geopark itself, including breathtaking viewpoints, magical waterfalls, magnificent wetlands and fantastic forests.
- Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
40,000 basalt stone columns were left behind by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago and formed the Giant’s Causeway. Explore state-of-the-art interpretation within the Visitor Center or admire the distinctive stone formations with your own eyes. Visitor Experience tickets include walks guided by award-winning storytellers, reserved on-site parking adjacent to the Visitor Center, access to the exhibit, shop and cafe, and use of all facilities.
- The Gobbins, County Antrim
What better way to get rid of cobwebs than a walk along this exhilarating coastal cliff path? Your journey begins with a hole in a rock called Wise’s Eye. Hike paths, walkways, tube bridges and tunnels on this spectacular walk and take in the stunning views while breathing in the sea air. Put on your walking shoes for a 2.5-hour walking tour. (Visits are limited to ten people to allow for social distancing).
Adventure & Activities
- Todd’s Leap, County Tyrone
There are over 20 action-packed activities available at the Todds Leap Activity Center including off-road driving, skeet shooting, 500m zipline, giant swing, free fall area , paintball, Splat Master, forest trails, air rifles, archery, the climbing wall and the Big Yella slide, all spread over a purpose-built off-road track.
- Let’s Go Hydro, Belfast
This impressive outdoor attraction, featuring an inflatable floating obstacle course, offers fun for everyone. The course includes an XXL tower, slides, a climbing wall, hurdles, moving discs, a ramp, podiums and a floating trampoline. The resort has 40 glamping modules to choose from, including a Boat House and floating lake, as well as an on-site restaurant and drive-in cinema experience! Pre-booking for all activities is essential.
- Strangford Lough Activity Centre, County Down
Offering a variety of land and water outdoor activities including archery, bushcraft, canoeing, coasteering, kayaking, laser tag, orienteering, raft building, stand -up paddle (SUP) and team building games, everyone will enjoy a visit to Strangford Lough’s activity centre.
Enjoy kayaking to a nearby island, stopping for a BBQ lunch before heading back to shore again with the sunset as your backdrop. Or start the day how you want to go, paddle to the island for yoga and granola while watching the beautiful sunrise!
- Ulster American Folk Park, County Tyrone
Immerse yourself in the history of the brave emigrants who crossed the Atlantic to America hundreds of years ago with 30 buildings and exhibits to explore. Stroll through thatched cottages and log cabins and meet costumed characters who will introduce you to traditional crafts and tell you some stories. Climb aboard a full-scale emigrant ship to experience the conditions many face as they embark on a new life in America.
- Exploris Aquarium, County Down
Get your hands on native species by tickling the belly of a small shark and feeling the tips of a sea urchin. The colorful coral reefs of the Tropical Ocean Zone are home to over 100 species. Outside in the enclosures, a family of Asian short-clawed otters remain a big hit with visitors, as does the seal sanctuary. Time slots allow you to explore the areas where you will encounter clownfish, sharks, rays and more.
- Navan Center and Fort, County Armagh
One of Ireland’s most famous and important archaeological sites. Learn about life over 2000 years ago as you walk in the footsteps of warriors to ancient Navan Fort, site of the great temple of 95 BC. Immerse yourself in Iron Age life as you meet the resident Celtic clan and admire their period home.
Culture & History
- Seamus Heaney HomePlace, County Londonderry
Discover the world famous poet in his beloved hometown. Journey through the life and works of this literary giant, beloved locally for his decency and humility, and learn about the place, people and landscape that inspired his work so much.
- The History of Derry, County Londonderry
The Siege Museum and Exhibition will tell the story of the Siege of Londonderry and the Museum of Free Derry will give you an insight into the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the most popular tours of Derry~Londonderry is the People’s Gallery, a set of twelve large murals that take you through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.
- Belfast Street Art Walking Tour, Belfast
Culture on every street corner? Spend a few minutes in Belfast and you will notice the walls. There is street art everywhere. Street artists from around the world have joined a new generation of Belfast-based street artists to leave their mark and help shape a new narrative for the city. This 2 hour walking tour for just £10 will help you understand this history and show you how the narrative of the city is changing.
- Hinch Distillery, County Down
A new 30,000 square foot distillery in Ballynahinch only opened last year. Fully trained guides will take visitors on an interactive and informative journey that provides insight into both the history of Irish whiskey and its unique distillation process with a guided tasting at the end of the tour. The visitor center facilities include a cafe, public restaurant, pub, outdoor courtyard and multi-purpose event spaces.
- Taste Experience in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
The Enniskillen taste experience begins at Enniskillen Castle and guides guests around the island town meeting local producers and suppliers. You’ll have the opportunity to sample Joe the Baker’s sourdough, Pat O’Doherty’s famous black bacon, Tickety Moo ice cream, Boatyard Gin, Sharon’s tasty scones, Innishmacsaint beer and much more! Every Saturday at 11 a.m. lasting three hours.
Houses, gardens and forest parks
- Slieve Gullion Forest Park, County Armagh
Alive with geology, archeology and over 2,000 years of legend and history, Slieve Gullion Forest Park is home to one of the most famous ring dykes in the world. Hike to the top of Armagh’s highest peak and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Ring of Gullion, Morne and Cooley mountain ranges and the Drumlins of Armagh.
- Montalto Estate, County Down
In scenic County Down countryside, the beautiful Montalto Estate with its paths and gardens is open to discovery. Highlights of the estate include the beautiful Alpine Garden, an impressive purpose-built treehouse, the Woodland Trail, and quiet walks with stunning views of the gardens and wildlife.
- Hillsborough Castle Gardens, County Down
Both the castle and the gardens are open for discovery. The beautiful colors at this time of year are especially worth a look. Try the 18th century walled garden, the lost garden, the Granville garden and the temple of Lady Alice.
- Court of Florence, County Fermanagh
One of Fermanagh’s famous historic houses, Florence Court is set against the mountainous backdrop of Cuilcagh Mountain, outside Enniskillen. Stunning grounds with a beautiful walled garden, Florence’s famous Yew and 15 kilometers of trails mean there’s more than enough to explore in a day.
For more information on places to visit, see www.discovernorthernireland.com. With plenty of places to stay within two hours of Dublin, Northern Ireland’s giant welcome is ready to welcome you this spring.